The Sky’s the Limit for Malta’s DMCs
There are many factors that shape an ideal conference destination. Accessibility and price of course are key. Accommodation, venues and the very makeup of the entire country itself are crucial. But a country is nothing without its people and in the MICE industry a destination is nothing without a strong army of destination management companies (DMCs) to handle all event logistics.
Long a favourite with leisure tourists, it was only in the Nineties that Malta started making waves in the MICE industry. Back then, pioneering Maltese DMCs and incoming travel agents broke new ground convincing international companies and associations to consider Malta as a conference and incentives destination. Malta quickly earned its stripes as a MICE destination of choice among FTSE100 companies, major international associations and organisations that have returned, time and again, to host their events on the small Mediterranean island.
Increasing accessibility and investment in infrastructure coupled with the determination and creativity of local DMCs have since cemented Malta’s credentials in the MICE industry. Several of Malta’s event organisers have been justly recognised by the travel trade for their efforts winning important international awards.
As a sign of their commitment to maintaining high standards of practice, a number of DMCs have voluntarily opted to participate in the Malta Tourism Authority’s Quality Assured scheme which recognises those companies committed to high levels of quality, consistency and professionalism. The certification is issued following a rigorous assessment and is renewed every two years. There are currently 22 Quality Assured DMCs.
From headline grabbing political summits and no-holds-barred extravaganzas for thousands of guests to discreet exclusive gatherings and luxury incentives, Malta’s event and conference organisers have repeatedly demonstrated excellence, originality and inventiveness. When it comes to organising memorable events, DMCs know how to make full use of Malta’s potential. The island may be limited in size but, for these intrepid event planners there are no limitations on what they can come up with.
Incentive programmes in particular highlight DMCs creativity. The island’s varied landscape and rich heritage inspire event organisers to produce memorable programmes featuring lunch at rock-hewn salt pans in Gozo, cordoning off an entire village piazza for dinner under the stars, organising Jeep discovery tours equipped with iPads or underwater treasure hunts. They may replace the ubiquitous coach transfer with a dgħajsa fishing boat or a horse-drawn karozzin and delegates might be welcomed by the “Grand Master” and his entourage immersing them directly into Malta’s history. Team-building becomes an adventure: an award-winning James Bond theme went down a storm with delegates when they were invited to take on a five-day “mission” to Malta.
Event planners work in conjunction with a highly skilled group of audiovisual professionals, team-building and training providers, entertainment specialists, stand designers, outside caterers not to mention a host of other ancillary services on land and sea. No stone is left unturned, no detail overlooked to ensure every delegate experiences an event like no other.
Organising headline summits and major international conferences presents DMCs with numerous challenges especially regarding security issues surrounding politicians and other VIPs. None so than when Malta staged its largest ever summit, the 2015 Valletta Summit on Migration with 4,000 participants including European and African government leaders from 64 countries. Just two weeks later, the red carpet was rolled out once more for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting presided over by Queen Elizabeth II. Local event planners pulled out all the stops organising meetings in various venues across the island, accommodation in different properties, security, transport, a fully-fledged press centre as well as gala dinners, receptions and spectacular opening ceremonies involving hundreds of actors, singers and dancers as well as cutting-edge audiovisual technology.
Now Malta takes centre stage for two significant moments in its history. The first half of 2017 sees Malta take over the rotating presidency of the European Union while in 2018 the capital city Valletta will be crowned European Capital of Culture. Ensuing events will test DMCs once more but there is no doubt they will live up to their Quality Assured status.